Ohio school district votes to make masks optional by June 1

It’s unclear whether the new policy is legal.
A student is wearing a mask while in class.
A student is wearing a mask while in class.(Photo source: KFVS)
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 5:14 AM EDT
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CLINTON COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - The Blanchester Board of Education voted on Monday to change the district’s mask policy, allowing students not to wear masks during certain activities.

For the rest of the current school year, which runs until June 1, students can go mask-less while playing outside or on school buses with rolled-down windows.

After June 1, no one who walks through the doors of any Blanchester school need wear a mask at all.

The new policy, adopted by a 4-1 majority, comes after the CDC released new guidance allowing people outdoors not to wear masks if they are vaccinated and socially distanced outdoors.

Currently none of the vaccines are approved for children under 16, though reports suggest Pfizer will be approved for teens 12 and older next week.

Kyle Wilson is president of the Blanchester BOE.

“I’ve continuously had concerned parents blow my phone up asking me, ‘When are we going to rescind this issue? When are we going to change the policy,’” Wilson told FOX19 NOW on Monday following the vote.

Wilson says those who voted for the new policy “don’t believe in” the Ohio Department of Health’s mask mandate.

He says the board consulted its attorney about the updated policy and were assured it is legal, though Wilson declined to share the legal specifics with us.

Andy Hamm is a teacher and parent in the district.

“As a teacher I expect my students to follow rules. I think that’s part of what we teach,” he said. “So it’s disheartening to see that we are going against what professionals have put in place when those are what the professionals are there for.”

Despite that, Hamm says the new policy won’t change how — or what — he teaches.

“About all I can do is continue to walk in and continue to teach students to do what is right and to follow guidelines, to listen to professionals, and I know my fellow teachers are going to do the same,” he said.

The board says it may revisit the issue before the next school year.

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